We Have Ingis-tion: New Suzuki Ignis Tested

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When the new Suzuki Ignis was unveiled I must say it looked rather good – it looked bold, funky and ‘down with the kids’, so to speak. Did I really just say ‘down with the kids’? In fact, there’s a good reason for that as Suzuki has young drivers very much in the Ignis’ target audience. Yesterday I was given the opportunity to drive the the new compact SUV.

Shining Bright

I turned up at the test location on what was a bitterly cold morning; in fact it was within moments that the feeling in my hands disappeared as I took some photos on my arrival. I was early but the cars were already there, lined up and ready to go. They were a vibrant bunch – a deliberate move to draw in young drivers – and every colour looked fab in the low, winter sun. My favourite colour was the Boost Blue though, its colour was rich and the sparkle was very attractive in the sunshine.

The Boost Blue was also the top of the range SZ5 model with Suzuki’s AllGrip Auto four-wheel drive system. Priced at £13,999, the SZ5 comes standard with keyless entry, 16″ alloy wheels, 8″ colour touchscreen Pioneer infotainment system, rear facing camera, leather steering wheel, climate control, electric windows, sat nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, cruise control, Dual Camera Brake Support, front fog lamps and last but not least LED headlights with daytime running lights.

I’m sure you’ll agree that is a rather extensive spec list and Suzuki is no stranger to offering great value for money. Like other Suzuki models though, the inside is not the most luxurious you’ll find – there are an array of hard scratchy plastics but on the plus side there is a fair bit of room, more room than you may expect actually. Headroom in the rear is likely to be tight for taller passengers though.

Oddly enough, you’ll get three rear seats in the base model SZ3 model but step up to either the SZ-T or SZ5 models and you’ll get two rear seats, which can move backward and forward by 165mm to either give more room for rear passengers, or to enlarge the boot capacity. The two wheel drive offers a bit more room though if that is of concern to you.

Speaking of the boot; the luggage capacity in the four-wheel drive model is limited to 204 litres with the rear seats slid back, but that can be improved to 490 with the rear seats push forward and 1,086 litres with the rear seats folded down – albeit with an uneven load floor. This may not sound overly impressive for an SUV, considering its compact dimensions it’s pretty good, plus you need to bear in mind that due to its small dimensions its rivals are cars such as the FIAT 500, Vauxhall Adam and the Renault Twingo.

Engines and Gearboxes

What I love most about the Ignis is its styling; it looks fresh, funky, bold, youthful, eager – you get the idea. As mentioned, Suzuki is aiming this at younger drivers and I certainly think the Japanese brand will succeed here. Just one engine is available; a 1.2 litre Dualjet petrol engine which produces 89bhp which may not sound like a great deal, but this car is lighter than most salads so it’s all ok. The SZ5 model also gives the option for a mild hybrid system but bear in mind if you opt for that you will add more weight due to the batteries.

The SHVS stands for ‘Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki’ which is a bit of a mouthful if I’m honest, so best to stick with SHVS…

In terms of gearboxes, there is a 5-speed manual on offer as well as an ‘automatic’ option. The reason I use inverted commas is because it’s an automatic of sorts; basically it is automatic but you need to use a gear lever to select the gears (without a clutch of course). Suzuki said the reason for this is so that there is still an automatic option but it offers the same economy as the manual. Exactly the same in fact. 0-62 will come in around 11 seconds the the top speed is just over 100mph.

Why so serious?

The reason why I’ve chosen ‘Why so serious?’ as the title for this segment will soon be revealed and to give you a clue, it’s in regards to the way the four-wheel drive version drove. Getting a good driving position was easy, even though the steering wheel adjusts for rake only. As its an SUV you’ll be able to enjoy a high driving position which feels a bit odd at first in a car this small. The pedals were laid out nicely and were nice and light. Visibility was good as well and although I felt the infotainment system wasn’t the most Intuitive, everything seemed to be going well.

I was expecting the Ignis to be fun to drive based on it’s grinning, characterful face but I found the car to be lacking somehow. The car wasn’t the most rewarding when it was revved and the steering was numb in the corners. The outside of the car looks like an excitable puppy but it felt a bit like dragging old around on the bendy Surrey roads. What I will say though is thanks to the four-wheel drive system the car gripped very well. However, overall I thought the car felt to serious for it’s youthful exterior.

So it’s no good then?

The Ignis is by no means a bad car, especially when you factor in what you get for your money but I feel the car should be a bit more nippy. Now this is where the two wheel drive version comes in. It has the same engine and the same 5-speed manual but because it does not have the SHVS hybrid system and four-wheel drive, it’s lighter and you really feel that weight loss in the corners.

It’s sweeter to drive too; I actually enjoyed revving the small Dualjet engine to the point where it was almost pleading for my to change gear and it felt like it had so much more character. Yes, there was less grip and when I broke firmly I could feel the front wheel squirming for grip. Some may prefer the four-wheel drive system but personally the two-drive version offers a drive that matches how it looks.

This was just one day of driving though; I should be giving the Ignis a more thorough test a little later this year.

My top pick: Difficult to say as I’d rather have the lightness of the mid-range SZ-T model (range-topping SZ5 has the heavier SHVS setup) but I’d want the features of the SZ5 so for me it’s a tough one. Based on driving alone, I’d rather have the lighter SZ-T though.

Initial ratings:

AllGrip version: 3/5

Two-wheel drive: 4/5

I’ll leave you with the wonderful Boost Blue one last time

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